The Candidate

This campaign drama shares its title with the Michael Ritchie classic (1972), but its political na├»vete seems to reach back even further, to the democratic la-la land of Frank Capra. The diffident title character (Yvan Attal) has been tapped to replace his party's terminally ill presidential contender, and with a crucial TV debate only days away, he hunkers down at a country estate with his inherited staffers, most of whom have already written him off. This tense situation is inherently compelling, but writer-director Niels Arestrup casts his hero's redemption along the most simplistic ethical lines: all he has to do in the debate is “tell the truth” and he'll win the hearts of the people, vanquishing not only his oily opponent but his own party boss, a sinister fat-ass reminiscent of Edward Arnold in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. 95 min.

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